Miami Device — My Incredible Learning

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Thursday: Day 1

It was truly two days of inspirational learning. Each session provided more and more ideas I want to try. Here is the line up I had on Thursday at Miami Device.

Thursday ScheduleMy first session after the Keynote was “Comic Sans Isn’t Professional” and was presented by Jeremy McDonald (@MrMacnology). I enjoyed his history lesson of the much debated font. But this session was about much more than which font to choose. It was about making your presentations crisper. Jeremy showed us how to use images and text to bring the focus to exactly where we needed it. Blurring the picture can help bring attention to the text. Using images to layer your text inside the picture can also be a powerful tool to helping your slides come to life. Fonts can set the mood of your presentation. I learned so much. There were many “Well, Duh. Why didn’t I think of that before now?” moments. I will say that this session has changed the way I will communicate in the future.

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Next on my agenda was “iPad as the Teacher’s Pet” with Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent). Tony created an amazing infographic (available here). He walked us through the plethora of apps that make the iPad indispensable in the classroom. Tony was dynamic as I expected, having followed him for years on his Learning in Hand website. It was a fast paced hour. There are lots of apps still for me to go back and download. I can’t wait to incorporate them into my classroom. During this class, I met an educator interested in Gamification in the classroom. Thom Timko (@ThomsThoughts) and I spent time talking about our classroom plans throughout lunch. It was like an additional session. Perfect.


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After lunch, I was back with Tony Vincent for “Make Marvelous Movies”. He again proved that there was so much to learn. He showed us how to make a movie shot with only one camera look like there were multiple cameras. He also taught us how to use the script just off camera so all students could participate. The sampling of apps that could make any teacher’s life easier was amazing. The practice provided gave us all the idea that we can make things fun and exciting. Teaching us how to make a student disappear was fun.

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I ended the day with “How We are Flipping the Script” with my friend, Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur). We talked about what it means to Flip a classroom or a lesson. She also shared many apps that would make flipping easier on all involved. I learned that Flipped instruction means the videos are shown before the lesson and Blended instruction means the videos are used in class. We discussed learning management systems, how to find equipment for students that didn’t have access at home. We shared about the problems we have faced while trying to flip a lesson. Sarah’s willingness to be open about her experience helped many of us in the room to open up as well.


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Friday, Day 2:

Friday Schedule


Session 1 on Friday had me back with Jeremy McDonald. His “Simplify Your Approach” was a call to stop dwelling on one platform or one set of apps. Our Why? shouldn’t be better test scores. Better test scores should be a natural extension of what is happening. Why do we wake up in the mornings? Why should anyone care? Jeremy spent the hour helping teachers rediscover their passion for teaching.

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My next session was with Michael Matera (@mrmatera). “Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game” gave us background into the Gamification of Products. Michael also walked us through the process he used to Gamify his class. There are many ways to use this system. Some use it to calculate grades, and even though completing assignments is an integral part of Michael’s gamification, he does not use the points to calculate grades. In fact, the students don’t earn prizes or anything. They can earn perks that Michael was already prepared to use before he gamified his classroom. It was a great session that re-energized me for the Vortex (my classroom at home).

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Session three brought me to “Myth Busters, Snopes, and the Apollo Hoax: Using Thinking Strategies to Identify Reliable Sources” and Sheryl Dwyer (@sheryldwyer). She used the Apollo moon landing as a way to get her students to think critically about the websites they choose to believe. A systematic checklist created by her students gives them them resources needed to conduct true research.

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After lunch, I was in a session titled “If You Challenge Them, They Will Come” with Craig Badura (@mrbadura). While the focus of this session was on Professional Development for teachers, every single idea shared could easily be adapted for the classroom. The idea of teaming teachers together to produce is inspiring. His use of Twitter with the students on his campus is innovative. There was also conversation about encouraging educators to reach out to each other on social media.

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The Closing Keynote brought a very touching addition. Joshua Williams of the Joshua’s Heart foundation was invited to tell us about his incredible organization. Joshua has been organizing students to help feed the hungry in Miami. His is truly the power of what students can accomplish if only given a chance.

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Once Joshua had inspired us all, it was time for Tony Vincent to provide the Closing Keynote. “Make It Your Own” was about the fact that when kids have Psychological Ownership of their surroundings, success can grow. He went on to encourage teachers to make their curriculum their own as well. A moving homage to apps that are no longer with us gave us both a nostalgic and humorous look back at what were once the apps we didn’t think we could live without. Tony also showed us how Java Script and QR codes are easy to use. In the end, Tony was inspiring, as usual.

The last hour brought out a local band, Suénalo. Their music was a fitting end to Miami Device. All in all, I would say my mind was blown time and time again. Felix Jacomino announced that Miami Device would be back in 2 years. I hope I get to go again.

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